A few weeks ago, we learned we are going to be the parents of a little boy come mid-winter. We were somewhat shocked, having convinced ourselves the baby would probably be a girl – statistically, I learned in the course of my day job, couples are 1 percent more likely to have a girl than a boy, and if they already have a girl the number increases significantly. Grace has provided us so much joy and fun during her first two years that we stood ready and waiting for the ultrasound tech to tell she saw a girl when she pointed out our baby’s “boy parts,” instead.
Ian’s face grew red and he high-fived me. I immediately felt thrilled and saddened – since we plan to limit our family to two children, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to mother another girl. But, I get to have a little boy! The most important part, of course, is that he seems to be completely healthy and for that we are terribly, terribly grateful.
For so many reasons, including many preconceived notions I have about siblings, I couldn’t be happier about this baby. I grew up with a little brother three years younger than I, and we almost always got along well. If you don’t believe me, send me a private message and I’ll give you my mother’s cell – you can ask her! According to my mom, the age difference combined with our genders (okay, I know the right term here is our sex, but it just reads awkwardly) meant we rarely had the same hobbies and interests, and those we did have in common – like going to the beach – were easily accomplished. It is terrible to admit, but I probably do a better job of loving my baby brother unconditionally than I do my husband, at times. Ian has two sisters, as well, and he has always had a strong relationship with them. So, having both boys and girls in the family dynamic feels natural to us.
I’m excited as well in a way that Grace will remain my only girl. She gets so excited for our “girls’ nights” and “girls’ trips” and while part of me loved the idea of another girl joining our special adventures, an even larger part of me loves that our “girl” time will remain ours, and ours alone. My parents did a remarkable job of creating quality family time that occasionally included one-on-one time with my brother and me, and I’m looking forward to doing the same with both my daughter and my son (my son!).
Pregnancy-wise, this time around has been interesting. On the positive side, I’m much more confident in my body and my ability to deliver a healthy baby than I was the first time around, and so overall I worry less and trust the process more. I tackle many more physical tasks than I did the first time I was pregnant but then again, with my first pregnancy I had a lot of unexplained bleeding that prohibited activities like weeding the garden and painting the nursery. By comparison, I feel absolutely Amazonian this pregnancy. But I’ve was much more sick with this pregnancy than I was with Grace, and even now, nearing the end of my second trimester, I struggle with nausea, especially in the grocery store.
I have less time in general to think about this baby, since Grace is capable of filling up all the spaces in between, and I worry that because of this I won’t feel as bonded when he arrives as I did when Grace was born, but even as I write this I think I know one doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the other- that our family will take a collective breathe and make all the room necessary for this little boy.
More than anything, I am excited for our family to grow by one more little person, and I’m thankful for they way my parents approached parenting. Over and over, they emphasized to my brother and me how much fun they thought we were (I never once in my life heard them claim parenting was ‘hard work.’) In my teens, when I wanted nothing more to be a Broadway actress and told my dad I had no intention of having children, he told me I was probably looking at a long life with a lot less joy and fun than was possible. I have plenty of friends now who are child-free by choice and they have great lives, so I know this actually isn’t the case as an adult, but I am thankful for parents who always made me feel like they wanted to hang out with me – that I was worthy company. Their kind, compassionate approach has made it so much easier for me to breathe through motherhood and remind myself that I am pursuing an overall lifestyle -one that will hopefully always include my children in some way, shape, or form – and look at what we are doing in my piece of Pittsburgh as one whole, full life and not, like I read so often, as “the toughest job I’ll ever love” or the oddly professional term “parenting” that I see so often nowadays. We are living a full, beautiful, complex and sometimes painful life, and we’ve chosen to include kids into that mix, and sure it’s hard – lots of things are hard, but it is also enormously entertaining and for that we are so terribly blessed.
And, who knows? Maybe this little boy will be born completely different than us. Maybe he’ll want to grow up to be a morgage broker or hedge fund manager or even a Tea-Party Republican – it doesn’t matter, because who he is is ultimately not my job – my job, I hope, is to make sure he knows I’m always delighted to see him – that he is, of course, a person of incomparable worth but also, enjoyable company, and I am so, so grateful to know him.